With a background as a holistic therapist and natural health practitioner, Claire Kelly subsequently co-founded Indigo Herbs. We caught up with her to learn more about her business, how the natural health market is booming, and the value of customer service.
Can you introduce us to Indigo Herbs and how the business first came about?
Indigo Herbs is based in Glastonbury, Somerset, and first began as the brainchild of Steve Mckewon (the Managing Director and my partner) in his garden office, back in 2004. Steve spotted a gap in the market when he was looking to buy natural health ingredients for himself and our family online, so he decided to source some excellent quality herbs, superfoods and wholefoods, and Indigo herbs was born. Both Steve and myself were on a journey of discovering how plants could assist the body in naturally healing. With a background in holistic therapies, I came on board to research and write about products and bring together the Indigo Herbs online Natural Health Guide. At the same time, Michael Hanby joined the team and, with a background in business, he helped steer Indigo herbs on to becoming an online market leader.
Alongside our dream of supplying excellent quality herbs and superfoods at affordable prices, the world of e-commerce also ballooned at this time, and customers realised that they could buy these often obscure and niche ingredients and have them turn up the next day. No one could have predicted the rise in interest in natural health ingredients, herbs and superfoods. Whilst it was once an alternative niche, the concept of superfood is now relatively mainstream. Indigo Herbs has grown from strength-to-strength, and now distributes and retails over 500 different own brand natural health products internationally.
The world of e-commerce ballooned… and customers realised that they could buy these often obscure and niche ingredients and have them turn up the next day. No one could have predicted the rise in interest in natural health ingredients, herbs and superfoods.
How do you go about deciding which herbs you will use in your products?
Most of our products are single ingredients, which is why we have our own recipe pages to inspire with serving suggestions. We are essentially an ingredients company. However, we do have a range of Blended Herbal Teas, Blended Superfood Powders, and Blended Aromatherapy Oils. All the ingredients have a long history of traditional use so we will select ingredients for a blend for their nutritional content, action, taste, texture and smell.
Your products are organic and quality assured. How hard was it do this and would you recommend it to other like-minded businesses?
We are certified by The Organic Food Federation, and they have been nothing but helpful. As a small business handling organic food, the OFF have helped us grow, and get some structure together in our manufacturing processes. We are always keen to work with suppliers that have a genuine concern for ecology and, where possible, we will choose organic. The OFF certification means we can pass that assurance onto the consumer.
How do you see the natural health market developing and what exciting things should we be looking out for?
I think we are just at the beginning of superfoods fully arriving into our daily dietary habits. There are a couple of major supermarkets now stocking a small range of superfoods, such as wheatgrass, cacao powder and chia seeds. These ingredients are starting to show up in recipes, in restaurant food, and on cooking shows, gaining credibility as the way forwards when it comes to super nutrition.
I think clean eating behaviour can only get bigger really as the trend towards unprocessed, free-from foods becomes stronger. We are becoming a more sophisticated and ethical consumer and, particularly when we are shopping online, we are looking to other people’s testimonies to make our purchasing decisions.
We’ve been through the coconut-crazy phase… I predict the next quirky new product range to look out for is mushroom nutrition!
We’ve been through the coconut-crazy phase, falling over ourselves for coconut milk, yoghurt, ice-cream, and the super popular coconut oil. Whilst the coconut craze will go on, I predict the next quirky new product range to look out for is mushroom nutrition! Leading with Chaga mushroom tea, followed up by Reishi mushroom tea and, for the enthusiasts, all the other medicinal mushrooms. The health benefits of medicinal mushrooms are many, but most notably, the highly-alkaline Chaga mushroom is pretty good at boosting immunity, is an antioxidant heaven, is deeply rich in minerals, is brain boosting and is somewhat of a tonic. It’s gaining popularity as THE health tonic tea (move over green tea!).
Indigo Herbs prides itself on customer service. Can you give us some top tips on how to look after your customer effectively?
Well, as an e-commerce business it’s essential we deliver on our speedy dispatch promises. The online shopper expects nothing less. However, it doesn’t stop there. We endeavour to always pick up the phone during office hours and our excellent friendly customer service team will do their best to answer any questions about product, delivery, returns and more.
Whilst we cannot offer any health advice, the customer service team can also direct an enquiry to the online Natural Health Guide, where there is a myriad of helpful information about traditional use, nutritional information and directions for use.
We like to share a bit of ourselves with our customers and you can find out more about us on our crew page on our website. We are a Google-certified shop, so that means that we have passed Google’s trust factor standards and you can check out our excellent reviews on Google and on Trust Pilot.
We are also a Living Wage employer and we celebrate the fact that we have a great team and a loving culture here at Indigo Herbs; we’d like to think that shines out in our customer relationships. Helping customers on their journey towards health and well-being is naturally an act of genuine service and we celebrate that this is Indigo Herbs mission.